Cattle on a Thousand Hills

The last few days have been gorgeous. Long days of sunshine, clear skies at night, and a full moon today. You don’t need a flashlight outside at night.

Anglers are out, their lures in Allatoona and Clarks Hill and Lanier and Sinclair. Kayakers slide across the waters in near silence. Bicyclists in tight and brightly colored spandex bike shorts peddle along the edges of our roads. Motorcyclists, dressed in leather, roll across the state, taking in the scenery and feeling the wind.

It is hard to beat, at least in my opinion. If you are not dead to beauty, it is abundant. It calls out to be appreciated, to be enjoyed, and to be stewarded.

Connection to Scripture: A lot of folks may know something of these verses:

For every beast of the forest is mine,

   the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know all the birds of the hills,

   and all that moves in the field is mine. (Ps 50:10-11)

Context: The poet Asaph penned these lines in Psalms to remind God’s people that just going through the motions of religiosity, just checking the spiritual block, was a sinful pattern that God detests. God wants authentic genuine worship, not lip service. He spoke through the poet Asaph these words:

Hear, O my people, and I will speak;

   O Israel, I will testify against you.

   I am God, your God.

Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;

   your burnt offerings are continually

      before me.

I will not accept a bull from your house

   or goats from your folds.

For every beast of the forest is mine,

   the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know all the birds of the hills,

    and all that moves in the field is mine. (Ps 50:7-11)

The Teaching: You see, it is not burnt offerings that please the Lord. It isn’t bulls or goats or any human work that will mollify or satisfy the holy requirements of God. Only God himself is holy. That is why God provided the ram in the thicket for Abraham. Isaac, Abraham’s son he loved, would not have to be sacrificed. And Abraham’s response? “So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (Gen 22:14)

Asaph wrote about it in Psalm 50. Moses wrote about it in Genesis 22 regarding Abraham and Isaac and God’s provision of the ram in the thicket. Paul wrote about it in letter after letter. John wrote about in gospel and in letter form.

Christ is the one and only sufficient Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7), sacrificed for his people (Heb 7:25), slain in accordance to the eternal decree of the triune God (Eph 1:11), “written before the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8).

Encouragement: It is because God owns the cattle on a thousand hills that redeemed people know how and why to steward beauty. It is because holy God is satisfied with the person and work of Christ, the only sufficient lamb, the ram–not caught in a thicket but nailed to the tree—that redeemed people know how and why the birds sing and soar, the beasts of the field and forests roam, the firmament shows forth its majesty, and the cosmos heralds God’s glory. It is because it is all a theater of God’s glory.

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